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Green River Basin Advisory Group
July 13, 1999
John Talbott welcomed those in attendance and began the meeting at
5:10 p.m. There were 74 people in attendance. Talbott turned the
meeting over to Rose Skinner, Mayor of Pinedale, who welcomed the
group to this meeting and wished the group future success.
Talbott asked Stan Murdock to introduce Dr. Luna Leopold. Dr.
Leopold made the following comments:
In looking at a planning process of this type and
magnitude, wish to suggest that you do two things: there are many
myths that you must discard and there are many changes that have
occurred in the past several decades that you must recognize. The
first of these myths that you must deal with is that “use it or
lose it” is not true. The 1922 Compact protects the seven states
from adverse use. Relative to things that have changed, there is
a lot of new knowledge that has come to light through research and
through operating knowledge. Changes in law, changes in climate
need to be recognized and dealt with. Finally, there are changes
in federal agency attitudes. Examples of each of these: Colorado
River sediment - a lot has come to light, AZ v. CA lawsuit
contributed expert testimony about the ability to build additional
facilities. Long term water supply of the River. Sediment
deposition and change due to construction of Hoover Dam. Court
and legal attitudes - much more concerned about instream flow --
Mono Lake decision - used to deprive water users of water that
they had been relying upon for many years. Climatic change - it
is occurring and it is real. Droughts, floods, temperature
changes. We cannot anticipate that we will have the climate that
we have enjoyed in the past. Finally, with regard to agency
attitudes: Dan Beard changed the entire attitude and orientation
of the USBR. Same thing with the USACOE. Two months ago I
published a paper on releases from Glen Canyon Dam that proposed,
through the judicious use of releases, the rebuilding of the
beaches in the Grand Canyon that are so important to the
Introductions were made around the room of the Green River Basin
Advisory Group and those in attendance. A review of the agenda for
the nights meeting occurred at this time. Talbott noted that
additional copies of the resource notebook could be obtained by
asking the river basin planning staff.
Randy Bolgiano brought up the matter of preparation of a mission
statement that he recalled was brought up at the last meeting.
Jack Steinbrech thought that this should be a homework assignment
for each to work on and to bring it up at the next meeting. A
lady in the back of the room suggested that an ad-hoc group should
be appointed to develop it for consideration at the next meeting.
Ann Strand stated that our mission was set by the Legislature and
we have a finite amount of time and resources available and hence
we should get on with it. John Zebre concurred. Talbott asked if
there was a “consensus” that we should just move on and that the
generic mission statement that has been supplied is sufficient. A
substantial majority raised their hands and so the group proceeded
to the next agenda item.
Review of Legislative Session and Current Status
Wade quickly stepped through the activities that have occurred
since the May 10th meeting of the Basin Advisory Group. Wade
covered the facts that:
- States West Water Resources Corp. has been selected as the
river basin planning consultant for the Green River Basin.
- Staff has been hired for the river basin planning team. Jon
Wade, Barry Lawrence, and Jodie Jackson have been hired at the
Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC), Chace Tavelli at the
State Engineer’s Office (SEO). Robin Gray represented the Water
Resources Data System (WRDS).
A presentation was made concerning the Water Planning Process
website. Lawrence provided a quick run-through of the website.
Shipman asked if copies of the Western Water Policy Advisory
Commission’s (WWPAC) report should be made available to the BAG
members. Wade noted that links to pertinent websites could be
established from the Water Planning Webpage.
Consultant Schedule and Work Tasks
Wade introduced Pat Tyrrell, who noted that States West and Boyle
Engineering Corp., along with Gary Watts, have been hired as the
Basin Consultant. Tyrrell provided a handout entitled Green
River Basin Water Planning Study, and walked through the tasks
that are listed on the handout of the general scope of work.
Larry Hicks asked a question about and requested clarification of
a spreadsheet-based surface water model. Tyrrell noted the intent
is to develop a dry year, average year and wet year alternative.
Hicks asked to what scale or resolution would the model be made.
Tyrell answered the question generally and noted the importance of
developing unit runoff figures for use in basins that do not have
gaging station records.
Zebre asked what the State agencies would have liked provided (in
light of the discussion about constraints and limitations), that
has not been provided by the Wyoming Legislature in the
authorizing legislation. Fassett noted that we have built in
budget flexibility to address gaps, if any, that the BAG may
identify at these monthly meetings. Scope of Work was reviewed at
length prior to the initiation of the consultant selection
process. Tyrrell noted that there is a scope of work task for
Basin Advisory Group activities that amounts to about 15 percent
of the budget.
Craig Thompson: water quality is important - may be important
enough to merit its own “item”. Questioned about why water quality
is listed as an item under “identify future water use
opportunities.” Tyrrell answered that how consideration of water
quality may affect future water use opportunities is what is
intended. Budd: water quality is beyond our control - we can’t
affect how water quality is controlled - we need to come up with a
plan for how we in Wyoming will use the remaining one-half of our
Compact-apportioned water supply. Budd suggested getting on with
the development of our water plan and not get bogged down.
Jim Parker asked if there is a listing of the Green River gaging
stations in the reference notebook. The answer was no, but the
Statewide Water Resources Data Inventory (which can be visited on
the Waterplan web page) does have a listing and/or links to the
available gaging station data and it can be accessed in that
manner. Mac Blewer asked about the impact/effect of the “credible
law passed by the Wyoming Legislature.
Jeff Fassett made a presentation that provided an overview
presentation on the Colorado River Basin. The material covered by
Fassett is summarized by the following:
State Engineer’s Role in Interstate Water Issues Arena:
The State Engineer is charged with general supervision of waters
of the State - responsibility for administering interstate and
intrastate streams and rivers. Wyoming's 7 interstate river
compacts, and 2 court decrees require the SEO to perform water
management and ministerial actions. Federal statutes and policy
relative to water and natural resources management impact
Wyoming's ability to use and develop additional water, such as the
Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). SEO
must participate on numerous work groups, committees and
organizations - Wyoming's interests will not be represented unless
Wyoming is at the table.
Wyoming's interstate compact and court-decreed water
apportionments are allotted in perpetuity - but it’s ability to
use those waters can be affected by many federal laws and policy.
Can specific actions of the Federal or other states’ governments
in some manner interfere with Wyoming's ability to beneficially
use our appropriated water or to develop the unused portion of our
share? What can
Wyoming do to prevent or minimize effects of Congressional,
Federal or other states’ actions on Wyoming's compact or decree
water rights? What is the most appropriate forum to pursue such
State Engineer’s Interstate Streams Objectives:
- Safeguard Wyoming's rights to conserve, use and develop our
water resources in the interstate arena, including federal water
project operation & administration.
- Prevent, address and resolve water allocation and
administration issues about Wyoming's compacts and decrees.
- Represent Wyoming’s interests at the interstate table.
- Interstate Streams Section provides technical assistance and
staff support to the State Engineer on diverse water policy and
topical issues, providing information and analysis.
SEO Interstate Responsibilities and Current Activities in the
Colorado River Basin
- Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum, Work Group and
Advisory Council - State Engineer is a member of the Forum and
Council - ISS is Work Group member
- State Engineer is Wyoming's Commissioner to the Upper
Colorado River Commission
- Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Species Recovery
Implementation Program - Implementation, Management and other
- Colorado River Management Work Group - development of the
Operating Plan for the Colorado River Reservoir system
- Seven State discussions about long-term Colorado River
allocation and reservoir operations issues (the CA 4.4 Plan)
- Federal legislation, regulation and oversight
The “Law of the Colorado River" has evolved from interstate
compacts, federal statutes, state statutes, contracts with the
Secretary of the Interior, court decrees and decisions,
international treaty & amendments, operating criteria, and
administrative decisions. The basic intent of the "Law of the
River" is to divide the available water equitably among the Basin
States, encourage Beneficial consumptive use of the water, and
protect the States' water entitlements against adverse use.
Foundations upon which the "Law of the River" rest:
- Reserved to the Upper Basin is a right of future development.
The Law of the River defines the apportionments of the states.
- Under "normal" water supply condition, Lower Colorado River
Basin annual use is limited to 7.5 million acre-feet per year from
the mainstem Colorado River.
- Coordinated, integrated operation and delivery of water from
Federal facilities is performed to provide the allocations of
water agreed to among the States in the 1922 and 1948 Compacts and
the U.S. Supreme Court Decree in Arizona v. California.
Colorado River Compact (1922):
- Divides the Basin into 2 subbasins at Lee’s Ferry
- Upper Basin is that part of the States of Arizona, Colorado,
New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming from which the natural drainage is
above Lee’s Ferry.
- Lower Basin is that part of the States of Arizona,
California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah from which the natural
drainage is below Lee’s Ferry.
- Any part of these states which use Colorado River system
waters are declared to be a part of that Basin from which the
water is diverted.
- Apportions in perpetuity to each Basin the exclusive
beneficial consumptive use of 7,500,000 acre-feet annually from
the Colorado River System. In addition, the Lower Basin is
granted the right to increase its beneficial consumptive use by
1,000,000 acre-feet annually from such waters.
- Provides for the sharing of any burden which might arise
because of a water treaty with Mexico (treaty signed later - in
1944): Such burden is to be met first from the "surplus" above the
apportionments and, if insufficient, the deficiency to be shared
equally by both Basins.
- Focal point of the Compact assures a certain quantity of
water passing from the Upper Basin to the Lower Basin.
- Article III (d) requires that the Upper Division States
(Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) not cause the flow at
Lee’s Ferry to be depleted below an aggregate of 75,000,000 acre-
feet for any 10-year period.
- Prohibits the Upper Division from withholding water and the
Lower Division from requiring the delivery of water which cannot
reasonably be applied to domestic and agricultural uses.
Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact:
Apportioned the Upper Basin water supply on the basis of:
- 50,000 AF/yr. to Arizona
- 51.75 percent to Colorado
- 23 percent to Utah
- 11.25 percent to New Mexico
- 14 percent to Wyoming
The apportionments made to the respective States are of any and
all man-made depletions. Beneficial use is the basis, the measure
and the limit of the right to use. No State may exceed its
apportioned use in any water year when the effect of such excess
use is to deprive another Signatory State of its apportioned use.
The Compact created the Upper Colorado River Commission, which
apportions the consumptive use of the water of the Little Snake
River (LSR) and its tributaries between Colorado & Wyoming. Water
diverted from the main stem of the LSR below a point one hundred
feet below the confluence of Savery Creek and the LSR is
administered on the basis of an interstate priority schedule
prepared by the UCRC.
Basic Apportionments under the Law of the River:
Lower Basin States
Upper Basin States
- Arizona: 2,800,000 acre-feet/yr.
- California: 4,400,000 acre-feet/yr.
- Nevada: 300,000 acre-feet/yr.
- Colorado: 51.75 percent
- New Mexico: 11.25 percent
- Utah: 23 percent
- Wyoming: 14 percent
Estimates of Wyoming’s Colorado River Compact Water
- If Upper Basin Water Supply gets7.5 MAF, then Wyoming’s share
would be 1,043,000 AF/yr.
- If Upper Basin Water Supply is 6.3 MAF, then Wyoming’s share
is 875,000 AF/yr.
- If Upper Basin Water Supply is 6.1 MAF, then Wyoming’s share
is 847,000 AF/yr.
California Seven-Party Agreement:
Fassett provided a detailed description of the ongoing seven-State
discussions that have led to the development of the CA 4.4 MAF
Plan, which is California’s proposed means to reduce its
dependence on Colorado River water supplies down from the present
5.2 MAF/yr. to California’s basic apportionment of 4.4. MAF/yr.
Discussion on Future Educational Presentations to Basin
Talbott asked for discussion of these matters. Suggestions that
were made were the following:
- Send out the agenda a week in advance of the meeting.
- Finish Fassett presentation at the next meeting of the Basin
- Ann McKinnon’s presentation to the Wyoming Outdoor Council
Annual Meeting in Casper on Wyoming Water Law.
- American Farmland Trust information on urbanization impacts.
- Ramifications of the MWD/PVID Dry-Year Leasing Program
- Bobbi Frank’s presentation about the Wyoming Association of
Conservation Districts (WACD) lawsuit against the Clean Water
Action Plan. Mac Blewer: if we are to have a presentation on
potentially controversial topics such as this we should have
presentations about the other side of the coin to ensure some
- Bob Grieve: Information about the model that is intended to
be developed and used.
- Presentation on what the projected load and demand growth,
population growth, etc.
- Ground water modeling activities in the Little Snake River
Basin - presentation at the next meeting of the BAG in Baggs by
- Presentation on species and habitat status of fish and
wildlife in the Green River Basin
- Recreational use on the Green River - permitting system on
the Green River
- Hydrology of the Colorado River
- Industrial and municipal growth projections
- Tourism, travel/revenues generated by tourism and recreation
- Instream flow benefits presentation (Tom Annear suggested as
Shields asked the group if they have considered whether they would
prefer a short briefing paper for some of these suggested
presentations (that could then be discussed as need be at the next
meeting), a presentation in person or both. There seemed to be a
consensus that both would be useful. The suggestion was made that
a bibliography should be included with each of these
presentations. Hicks made the suggestion that the agenda needs to
be sent out ahead of time so that members can “read or study up”
ahead of the upcoming meeting. Mike Meyer noted that we have come
up with quite a list. He suggested picking out 3 or 4 to present
at the next meeting(s) and sending out written information -
papers/summaries/synopses for those topics that lend themselves to
Question asked by irrigator about getting into the specifics of whether
the supply to a riparian area is due to return flows or groundwater,
Question asked by George Salisbury about studying of transbasin
diversions. Answer: There is not an intent to develop new proposals.
Kirk Heaton: Coalbed methane impacts - is it an issue in this Basin?
Answer: Not a significant issue here.
The Basin Advisory Group did not delve into these topics on
account of lack of time at this meeting. Talbott asked the group,
prior to the next meeting, to think about what needs to be
addressed in the water plan (those issues that need to be
addressed in the plan). Talbott: the plan will be no good unless
it addresses the issues that are important to you. As E. Green
said at the first meeting, the intent is to prepare a
“descriptive” rather than a “prescriptive” plan.
Hicks: I want to come back to what Bob Grieve and I said earlier
- the spreadsheet water model needs to be accurate, to be of the
right resolution and to be useful for decision-making. I would
like to have the consultant come to the next meeting to make a
presentation concerning exactly how the
model will be developed.
Talbott: to those of you who are getting frustrated that you have
not had a chance to do much yet,consider that you have done a lot
of listening and at the next meeting come prepared to do some
The next meeting will be held at the public school music room in
Baggs, Wyoming on August 10th beginning at 5:00 p.m.
The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.